There are a million considerations to make when deciding on family size (assuming that everything goes exactly as planned), and that's usually something that people get to hash out in the privacy of their own marriage.
I don't burden people with my own opinion of what they should do, because what do I know about their situation?
And I don't even really care about people voicing their opposing opinions directly to me, and especially not to the world at large, because I live in a free country, and I'm an expert at making my own choices while ignoring others' (maybe a little too expert). Because how does their opinion affect me, exactly?
But, there is one prevalent misconception that I would like to put to rest.
Ok, the argument about college would take another post (that I probably won't write, let's be honest), and I'm not even sure what is meant by "traveling" here. The inevitable world travel of the kids or the unburdened travel of the parents?
Anyway, what I'd like to highlight is this idea that everyone having more than two kids today is pushing the human population past replacement.
It simply isn't true.
I too grew up seeing charts showing the numbers of humans growing exponentially, but what Thomas Malthus feared about population growth, and even appeared to be happening just 20 years ago, is no longer the case.
You know how you have 0-2 kids? And all your friends have 0-2 kids? Well, it turns out that most of the world is exactly the same!!
And those that aren't will be getting there very, very soon.
(Besides, do you know what the replacement level fertility rate is? It's 2.1 -- that's actually a little bit more than two kids per woman. Plus, for every woman with no kids, I get to have two more!! -- I kid, I kid.)
Oh no! You say. That may be true among the responsible peoples of western Europe, but what about those people in rural America? It's made up of people like you. Nope. Only 9 states in the United States have a fertility rate over replacement level. The fertility rate of the entire country is below that.
Ok, what about Mexico? Nope. India? Nope. Africa? Ok, it's still high, but do you see how fast it's falling?
In fact, the fertility rates everywhere are dropping, and the world's population is estimated to peak and then start decreasing in a few decades.
Now whether you think decreasing population is good news or bad news depends a lot on your other beliefs.
Some people are excited for there to be more of everything (except pollution) for the rest of us.
Others worry that past populations with low rates have succumbed to war and economic decline.
Those of you in this country may worry about the worker to social security recipient ratio of the future.
But, that debate is not the point of this post. The point is that you and I will most likely see the peak of human population growth (and then decline) in our lifetimes!
Of course, the momentum can all change again. But, how likely are you to suddenly decide to have a few more kids? Not likely, and neither is anyone else. It would take a major cultural and attitude change all over the world caused by war (perhaps), or widespread religious awakening (hard to imagine), or the sudden disappearance of all forms of birth control from the face of the earth (pretty much impossible).
I do want to say to all of my friends out there with 0-2 kids -- You are wonderful! Please enjoy what you have!
And as you look at my family, it is fine for you to think that we're out-of-our-minds (likely), that every surface in our house must be sticky (perhaps), that my hands must be raw from all the laundry and dishes I wash (they're not), and that I must cry at night wishing my life was more fulfilling (I don't), but please don't look at us and hate us because we're contributing to explosive, out-of-control population growth.
Because we're not.
P.S. Babies are cute.
P.P.S. Toddlers and kids (and husbands) aren't bad either.
P.P.P.S. Just a few words to the wise (in case you've missed a few other changes in the past 20 years) --eating eggs will NOT raise your cholesterol, and there is no link between autism and vaccination.